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Abandoned pesticide collection program removes more than 1 million pounds

Seven-year-old program collects more than 1 million pounds of unwanted pesticides. Multi-agency program has collection events in all 75 Arkansas counties. 

A program to gather outdated, unused or otherwise unwanted agricultural pesticides to keep them out of the environment has collected more than 1 million pounds of pesticides, the Abandoned Pesticide Advisory Board said Tuesday (April 23).

Reducing the risk of human and environmental exposure, plus having the chemicals properly disposed of at no cost to the farmers, “is a win-win-win for everyone,” said Ples Spradley, Extension pesticide safety education specialist. The ongoing program is funded by the agricultural pesticide industry.

Through the cooperative efforts among county judges, the Cooperative Extension Service, state and county Farm Bureaus, county Conservation Districts, Arkansas Department of Environmental quality, state Natural Resource Conservation Commission, state Plant Board and the agricultural pesticide industry, this program has now held collection events during the past seven years for all 75 counties in Arkansas.

In 2013, the program will begin again for the original counties that conducted collection days in 2006. The goal is to provide the program on a continuing basis to all counties every four to five years.

“The program is in high demand and the farmers in Mississippi County have used it a bunch,” said Dave Freeze, Greene County Extension agent who used to work in Mississippi County.

With almost 100,000 pounds collected, Mississippi County has accounted for about a tenth the program total.

“This would have cost farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars if they had contracted for removal by private firms,” he said.

Clay County, the first row crop county to hold collections in the program, amassed at least 57,000 pounds of unwanted farm pesticides this year alone, said Extension staff chair Andy Vandgilder. “It’s a great thing.” 

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